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After seeing off Murcia, Celta and Espanyol to make the semi-finals for the eighth time in a row, the next hurdle on Barça’s Copa del Rey journey is Valencia. The first leg is at the Camp Nou on Thursday night (9.30pm CET - TICKETS HERE)
Ousmane Dembélé and Thomas Vermaelen are still ruled out with injuries, whilst André Gomes hasn't yet recovered from digestive discomfort. Ernesto Valverde has called up 18 players for the match including new signings Philippe Coutinho and Yerry Mina.
Injury troubled Valencia are missing three regular starers this season in Argentine defender Ezequiel Garay, Portuguese midfielder Gonçalo Guedes and French midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia.
Though Barça are just two games away from another final, Ernesto Valverdewas clear as to how difficult a match this will be for the Blaugrana. He noted that "it's vital to put in a good performance in the first leg because they are very strong in Mestalla. It will be important not to concede. It's an open tie and an attractive one for both teams. It will be tough for both sides." Aware that his team often play a high line, Valverde also warned that "Valencia are one of the best teams in the League on the counter. They have very dangerous players up front who can score goals."
Despite admitting that “we were drawn against the worst possible opponent, the most in-form side in Europe” with the added difficulty of having so many key injuries, Valencia boss Marcelino says that “we still have the rest of the squad. We aren’t giving this up as lost. We are excited about the chance to make it into the final.”
Barça have been unstoppable in this competition in recent years! They have won three editions in a row and are now just 270 minutes away from a record-equalling fourth.
That’s meant successfully negotiating 22 different rounds without a single defeat at Camp Nou and scoring an average of almost four goals a game in the process.
Valencia, who beat Zaragoza, Las Palmas and Alavés to get this far, are currently third in La Liga, but a massive 17 points astray of runaway leaders Barça.
No decade has passed since the 1920s without these sides meeting at least once in the cup, and although Barça have generally had the upper hand, there have been some memorable encounters over the years.
Memories will come flooding back of the semi-final two years ago, when Barça went on the rampage at Camp Nou, winning 7-0 with Luis Suárez scoring four.
Valencia have won this trophy seven times, for the last time in 2008, but that’s a far cry from Barça’s record haul of 29 titles.
It shouldn’t be too hard to find a way to watch the game, but if you can’t for any reason, allow us to recommend our fabulous English language commentary on Radio Barça. The link will appear on the home page shortly before kick-off. You will also find live updates on all the action in our Twitter account.
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